AI aids Aboriginal eye health

Health workers in one of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities are using an artificial intelligence (AI) tool developed at Centre for Eye Research Australia to help detect and prevent one of the leading causes of blindness.

CERA is working with the Nganampa Health Council and the Fred Hollows Foundation to help close the eye health care gap in remote Australia, with trials of the AI device being used in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia to detect diabetic retinopathy.

The trial will see health workers upload photographs of patients’ retinas and upload these to the AI tool, which is able to provide an eye health report within seconds. This report will be given to patients in both English and Pitjantjatjara, with referral for treatment where necessary.

Currently, ophthalmologists based in Adelaide manually assess retinal photographs taken by health workers. However, it’s hoped that the new AI device will speed up referral processes and will lead to earlier detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy - a major cause of bilateral vision impairment and blindness in Indigenous Australians.

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